3Rivers Blog

Are All Cards Created Equal? Yes… and No.

Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015

With my first credit card in hand, I ventured off to college in 1995 as a skinny freshman with a computer that boasted a whopping 850MB hard drive. That was supposed to be more space than I’d ever need, so I was certain I’d have that computer until the end of time. But it barely got me through four years of college due to the massive changes in software requirements, resource demands and the “sudden” explosion of the Internet and World Wide Web.

The credit card, though, got me through college quite ably. In fact, I suspect that humble Mastercard was, at times, living off me just as much as I was living off it. Live and learn. I began working at 3Rivers fresh out of college in 1999. Sometime after that, we at 3Rivers sought to simplify things by offering only Visa cards on both debit and credit cards. I’m a fan of diversity and options, so I got a Visa debit and credit card thinking I would now be able to have at least one card capable of being accepted anywhere I shopped or traveled.

I eventually cut ties with that first Mastercard, but continued to carry the Visa cards. They served me well. However, much like my first computer, neither of them were the only cards I would ever need. As consumer trends, technology and needs for stronger security change, so too must the companies that serve consumers.

EMV Chip Mastercards at 3Rivers FCU | Image source: Shutterstock.com / Photographer: Marco Scisetti

3Rivers recently chose to bolster security and flexibility for credit card carrying members. As part of that decision process, we migrated to Mastercard credit cards and I again became a Mastercard credit card holder. Similarly, 3Rivers will also soon be transitioning its debit cards to Mastercard for much of the same reasoning.

Like many members, I had questions about the ability for Mastercard to be widely accepted and I was curious about the overall strength of the Mastercard brand. So I did the research. I thought you’d also be interested to know what I learned:

Brand Strength of Mastercard

There’s a little piece of me that sort of felt like I was coming home when my new 3Rivers Mastercard arrived. It was like slipping on a pair of familiar shoes that I had forgotten about. But it had also been many years since I had been a Mastercard holder. I am pretty finicky about the brands I endorse and let’s face it, every time you swipe a 3Rivers Mastercard, you’re endorsing both 3Rivers and Mastercard. I certainly know much about 3Rivers, but had to do some sleuthing on Mastercard.

My research confirmed that Mastercard indeed remains one of the most recognized brands in the world and they are using their vision, experience and emerging technologies to make our payments safe and easy. Additionally, the independent and impartial research company, BRANZ, who does brand studies and appraisals, continually ranks Mastercard as one of the top brands in terms of global value and recognition.

Acceptance of Mastercard

I gotta’ confess something. This question had me a bit worried at first. I’m glad to report that my worries were both misguided and unnecessary. You see, both Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most merchants. In fact, both may be used at more than 25 million locations across 170 countries. No worries there. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s some third-party consensus:

Nerdwallet: “For some people, choosing Visa or Mastercard may provide a minor feature or two that acts as an added convenience. But most people would be better off spending time comparing what issuers offer, such as cash back and rewards earnings. This is where you’ll find the most value per dollar.”Source

Motley Fool: “When shopping for a new credit card, most consumers place more emphasis on bank-specific perks such as reward programs and interest rate offers. Furthermore, some popular credit card products are issued in both Visa and Mastercard varieties, allowing customers to choose their favorite. There is no clear winner between Visa and Mastercard…”Source

And because things work well in threes…

Investopedia: “Since Visa and Mastercard are usually accepted wherever credit cards are taken, the consumer should focus more on the interest rate and features of the card rather than the brand. While there can be major differences between cards bearing their respective logos, these companies only control a small amount of their benefits… Visa and Mastercard don't actually issue any credit cards. All Visa and Mastercard branded credit and debit cards are issued by individual banks.”Source

Two things ring abundantly clear in those summaries. First, there’s no difference between Mastercard and Visa in terms of acceptance locations. Secondly, consumers should look into the rates, potential fees and program features that are offered by the individual issuers (such as banks or credit unions) to get the product that is best suited for them. With that in mind, let’s talk about what the 3Rivers Mastercard offers:

Mastercard Credit Card at 3Rivers

As a 3Rivers credit card holder, you’ll get a competitive rate and can earn rewards for your purchases. Those rewards points can be used for gift cards to your favorite stores, merchandise, cash or airline tickets and hotel stays. There’s no annual fee for a 3Rivers Mastercard credit card, nor is there a minimum finance charge. Add to that the EMV technology that comes with a 3Rivers Mastercard credit card and your shopping experiences are even more secure than ever before.

Compare our credit card rates and fees to the other card issuers you’re considering and I am sure you’ll agree it’s one of the best credit card options available.

Mastercard Debit Card at 3Rivers

A debit card is a simple and safe way to spend. Use it for purchases or get cash from any of the more than 30,000 no surcharge ATMs that are available to 3Rivers members nationwide. Plus, a 3Rivers debit card has allowed tens of thousands of members to earn some great rewards when used with their Rhythm Checking account. With the coming addition of EMV technology from a 3Rivers Mastercard debit card, your shopping experiences are even more secure no matter which 3Rivers plastic you choose.

You might also like: What You Need to Know About Our Debit Card Conversion | EMV: The Future of Card Security | Debit Card Conversion FAQs